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Meerut: 1857 Uprising Celebrations Begin

May 4, 2007
Thousands of people congregated at the historic Victoria Park in Meerut on Sunday evening to pay homage to the martyrs of the First War of Independence.

All roads leading from New Delhi to Meerut were decked up with huge banners and posters of the 1857 war heroes.

These Indian war heroes had revolted 150 years ago against the British after they refused to use cartridges laced with cow and pig fat.

Hindus felt that it was unholy to chew cow fat. Muslims consider pig as haram. Both Hindus and Muslims felt the British were insulting their religion and customs by ordering them to follow their diktat.

The first Indian to raise the banner of revolt was Mangal Pandey in March 1857 in Barrackpore near Calcutta, but it was in Meerut where the great Indian mutiny broke out.

"It is historic to be here on this occasion," said Shahzad Ali, a teacher by profession.

He had come from Kanpur to witness the event.

"I feel proud to live in free independent India and I want to salute all those freedom fighters who died in the First War of Independence fighting against the British," added Ali.

For beginners of Indian history, there were 85 Indian soldiers who refused to use the cartridges and challenged the authority of their British officers.

These 85 Indian prisoners were publicly humiliated on May 9, 1857, by the British and sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment.

Image: Mangal Pandey's statue at Shaheed Samarak, Meerut
Reportage: Syed Firdaus Ashraf
Photographs: Dominic Xavier

Also see: Bahadur Shah's remains won't be shifted to India
Rally to be flagged off from Meerut's Kranti Park

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